Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For the Joy of the Lord


Well, with all the darkness and heaviness that has surrounded us as of late, I figured it was time for some silliness, so the other night I found this really crazy music video online and played it for the kids.  Those of you who know my younger son, Dylan, may see him as a rather shy and reserved little boy.  He sure seems like a no-nonsense-type of guy, usually displaying a serious demeanor.  And that is all the result of him not letting his personality come out in front of strangers.  He saves who he really is for Mama and Daddy, and big brother too.  In reality, Dylan is as goofy as it gets.  He has the capability of driving us insane while at the same time bringing us to a state of the most unimaginable joy that we can't help but feeling a bit dizzy afterwards.  As it happened, Dylan loved the crazy video I found, and that evening his personality came all out in the form of dancing.

I cannot tell you how much I laughed watching my little boy coming undone in this adorable dance.  I don't remember laughing that much in a long time.  It was pure joy!  And as I showed him my joy in laughter, he became bolder and wilder.  My joy encouraged him.  My joy made him stronger in his pursuit of bringing me delight.

Later that night, when the kids had gone to bed and the sound of laughter had been replaced with the rhythmic breathing of peaceful rest I peaked into Dylan's room and saw him sound asleep.  Not much beats seeing one's sleeping children...At that moment, I thought of Our Father in Heaven and how much delight He must experience every time one of His beloved children comes out of his or her shell in His presence.

The same way that Dylan becoming the person that he truly is in the comfort of our presence brings unadulterated joy to our hearts and laughter to our souls, imagine how Our Heavenly Father must feel when we become the person He designed us to be in front of Him. He designed us specifically for His joy and when we finally embrace such design, when we embrace His plan for us, when we embrace His redemption, all of Heaven rejoices.(Luke 15:7)  

The wonderful thing is also that this is a circular action, for as He rejoices, we are strengthen!  Like Nehemiah 8:10 says:
  "Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 

Just like the expression of my joy and delight with him strengthened and encouraged Dylan; how much more the joy of the Lord as He delights in us would strengthen us and give us courage to move on.  So many times, however, the circle moves in reverse.  We are discouraged and weakened by the burdens we carry in life, so we shut ourselves tighter and tighter into our shells.  We abandon His plan and His designs for us.  Then, we don't perceive His joy which in turn discourages us even more.  

It isn't easy, I know, but sometimes we must just crank that wheel backwards and get into that groove again, the groove that was made for us, where we belong, and dance for Him!  If the way I laughed watching Dylan dancing is any indication, the Heavens will shake as the King bursts out in Holy laughter in His throne.  Let's be ourselves for Him, whatever that may look like!  

Now, if you want to see an edited clip of Dylan's performance, click on the video below.  I didn't dare posting the entire version of the dancing for I know one day he may be none too happy with me...I hope this brings a bit of joy to you too.


                                         video

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Timing

“Lord, give me the right words…” This is my constant prayer every time God lays it on my heart to offer some words to someone looking for hope. Today, after I read a text message from my niece, I prayed extra hard. I never know how or if anything I ever say to her is effectively bringing her the comfort she is seeking; but I know that everything I say comes out after fervent prayer for the Holy Spirit to inspire me. I am not sure of the impact, but I know the source and I leave it all to Him after it comes out of my mouth or fingers…Today, I read her message as I was leaving work for home (I know…no texting while driving…I didn’t text, though…I just glanced at the message while at the stop light).

Her words resounded heavily in my heart as I kept driving. As usual, I prayed. I stopped at a nearby McDonald’s to type my reply. Somehow, however, the words didn’t feel particularly inspired or inspiring to me. The level of brokenness she is experiencing requires supernatural inspiration and I didn’t think my message had hit the mark. I hit the send button anyway. I pulled out of the parking lot and kept on thinking and praying. She is so brokenhearted I don’t know what to do. I keep praying for the Lord to mend her heart and soul only to witness the pieces chipping away on a daily basis.

I let out a sigh and kept on driving. The song “Remind me who I am” by Jason Grey came on the radio. I immediately thought she should hear it. Again, I had to look for a place to safely stop the car to type a short message to urge her to listen to this song. I wasn’t really paying attention to where I’d parked. I just saw the parking lot and pulled in. I typed my text and hit send. As I was backing out my car I looked at the building next door. It was a church. There was a nice sign on the front. I read it as I was waiting at the stop sign. It said: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” Psalm 34:18

The message was for me. I don’t doubt God’s ability to take away her pain and mend her heart. I just hurt for her because for some reason the timing for healing has not yet arrived. And that makes me angry. The timing of the sign, however, was absolutely flawless. He is close to her even if for a while His presence goes unnoticed. He is always there. And He will reveal Himself at the appointed time, His time, which is not ours, but it is perfect. Meanwhile, let’s ask Him to remind us who we are, so we never forget. And let’s trust that He will always give us the right words, His word, because He is Faithful and His Word is true!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rocket Balloons


As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4: 10

“Mama, look at this!” My son Dylan said to me excitedly from the living room the other night. “Look what I made! I made a dog!” He said again, since he knew I had ignored his first attempt at catching my attention. Then I looked and indeed, he had made a dog with one of the many rocket balloons Grandma had given him for Easter. – On a side note, I swear my Mother in Law owns serious stocks in the Rocket Balloon company since every holiday each of her 11 grandchildren gets a packet full of them which make for a rather “cheerful/noisy/spit-full” gathering.- 

At any rate, Dylan had stopped letting the rocket balloons loose around the house, which had thankfully made for a much quieter evening, and instead he had been diligently at work tying them up after blowing them all up and leaving them spread all around the living room. I didn’t really care since I much rather have him doing that than using them for their intended evil purpose. What I didn’t know was that he had decided to try to make a balloon dog with one of them; much less that he had actually succeeded! When I finally looked, he was holding in his little hands a perfectly shaped balloon dog! Granted, it was just the top half, but it was surprising to see how he had figured out a way to make that all by himself. After showing me, he ran upstairs to show Daddy. And I heard him say: “Look Daddy, I’m gifted!”

Dan and I both burst out in laughter when we heard that. Then we said to Dylan, “yes, you sure are gifted!” We all are. No matter what we think, we have all received gifts from our Maker. He tucked the gifts inside of us and He provides opportunities for us to pull them out and use them. It is mainly up to us, however, how we use those God-given gifts. It is up to us how we do not use them also. We may decide we don’t have any gifts so that’s why we don’t use them. That’s actually one of the most successful tools of the enemy. He convinces us that we were not endowed by Our Creator with any gifts; therefore, we do nothing. We hide our “talent” and we miss out.

If we don’t use our gifts, we miss out on a Spirit-filled life. I’m not talking about a doctrine of works. I believe there is nothing we can do to earn our spot in Heaven, so to speak. Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe. It is not what I do, but what He has done. It is by who He is and by His calling and by His Grace that we belong to Him. But I do believe also that living a life of buried talents keeps us from enjoying His rewards in Heaven and from a joyful life on earth. That’s how we show our faith. That’s how we show our love. And it is by our love that we will be recognized as His children.-a love that moves us to action,-a love that is more than words.-

Just as my little boy discovers his gift for creating with his hands, I pray we discover our own gifts. As Dylan discovers the joy of using his gifts for the honor and glory of the Most High, I pray we do the same. In the meantime, let’s see what other better uses Dylan discovers for those delightfully annoying rocket balloons. I know one day I will miss their sound as they flutter pass by my head spreading joyful spit to those in their path.

I'm linking with WHOLE HEARTED HOME

Friday, April 5, 2013

What Is Your New Name?

In a day like today, a sun-filled Friday, when spring seems to be finally springing in our neck of the woods, I feel like listening to fun and cheerful beats that spell out the wonders of the One True King.  So promptly, as I was cooking dinner, I flipped through the selection of songs I have cued into my audio device of choice looking for the perfect one to get me into the right mood to chop some potatoes.  The first notes of "Hello, My Name Is" by Matthew West immediately grabbed me.

If you haven't heard that song, I recommend it for an instant jolt of Godly joy! The song spells out serious food for thought as it brings a smile to one's face. It is the message I needed to hear today.  It is the message of  new beginnings.  It is the message of renewal.  It is the message of hope,-the hope of a new life in Christ.  

Though I have plenty of regrets in my life, I will not let those define me.  

Though I have many voices inside that compete for my attention and try to derail me from my path, by the Grace and Power of the One who lives in me, I will not let those voices muffle the Voice of Truth!

Though I know what defeat is, I will not let it paralyze me.

I have been washed cleaned by the Blood of the Perfect Lamb.  I have been changed into a new creation by the One who called me.  The One who makes all things new has transformed me. I am no longer lost, for He has found me. 

Before all that, however, I used to go by many names. My name used to be discouragement and fear and anger.  My name used to be selfishness and self-contentedness used to be my middle name (God used giving me children to quickly take care of that : )  My name used to be worry and doubt.  My name used to be meanness and materialism.   As it often happens after He calls His own, He has changed my name. My name is now, forgiven.  My name is grateful.  My name is humble.  "My name is Child of the One True King!" 

Let's not get stuck in our own lack of forgiveness for ourselves.  He has paid it all and now we must rejoice and praise Him for He has made us new.  And He did it as a gift.  We had nothing to do with it.  And we don't have to pay Him back either.  It was freely given and we must freely receive it.  

He has given us a new name.  Embrace your new identity in Him.  Contemplate His new name for you and spring back into life.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Day to Remember

Yesterday, April 3rd, I'm guessing was a pretty big day in Heaven! For the first time after 13 years apart, my parents got to celebrate their wedding anniversary together again. I know they probably didn't celebrate the same way they used to while on this side of Paradise; but I have no doubt they were rejoicing, indeed!

They got married 58 years ago yesterday. Theirs was a beautiful love story. I am proud to have been part of it. I am very grateful to our Lord for giving me the gift of loving, caring parents who were absolutely in love with each other. It has been a great example to follow in my own marriage. I think of my Mother often every time I have "issues" with my husband. I think of her quiet strength. I think of her gentle nature. I think of the way she respected my Father. I saw in them the living proof that Paul was right when he gave his Divinely inspired advice on the way husbands and wives must relate to each other:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5: 21


They submitted to one another in love and kept Christ in their lives and marriage all throughout their time together. My Mother accepted my Father as the head of the household and in turn he loved her more than he loved himself. It was an unbreakable circle which only death did apart. 


For those of us who are still left behind in this world, April 3rd will always be the most special of days. It will always be a day to remember how a marriage grounded in commitment to one another and tied together in Christ with ribbons of love can endure a lifetime and beyond.

And to my Mama and Papa I say: Feliz Aniversario! We love you and miss you so much..
.

I brought this picture with me this past December after my last trip to Panama.  I've looked at it for years in my Dad's large collection of pictures and I always loved it.  They both look so young.    This was shortly after they got married in 1955 and this is how I picture they look like now in Heaven.  I wanted to pull the picture out of the frame to scan it, but it was sealed shut and I didn't want to risk it so that's why it's blurry.  May it remain undisturbed as it's been all along.  Just like their romance.





Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"If I can't die, You have to teach me how to live"

“If I can’t die, You have to teach me how to live.” I heard Joni Eareckson Tada say these words in a radio interview today and it shook my soul. This gut-wrenching prayer was uttered by Joni 40+ years ago, when she was 17 years old after the tragic swimming accident that caused her to become a paraplegic for the rest of her life. The prayer is as earth-shattering today as it was back then for this woman after God’s own heart. The prayer is as earth-shattering to her as it is to all who hear it said aloud.

The simple sentence contains a complex mixture of emotions that include fear, agony, despair, frustration as well as surrender and faith among many others. Above all, I think, the words are a concealed but powerful expression of hope and trust. They are words with which we can identify since, whether we want it or not, sooner or later we will all face a seemingly impossible circumstance for which we feel ill-equipped to deal with.

If I can’t __________________, You have to teach me how to __________________. We can all fill in these blanks, can’t we? I know I surely can.

What may seem as a cry of hopelessness, disillusionment, failure and helplessness is in reality a poignant expression of resolve,-one that we should all remember every time the burden weighs too heavy on our backs and we want to give up-. “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.” Psalm 55: 22 He has promised to give us what we need in order to accomplish His carefully drafted designs for our lives.


Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68: 19 

God didn’t only promise these things to Joni. The same way the Lord keeps on sustaining and carrying Joni Eareckson Tada’s burdens daily; He will also carry ours.

If You want me to __________________________ and You KNOW I have not what it takes to survive it, then You need to _________________________ . I trust You, Lord. You will never leave me nor forsake me.

If you want to know more about Joni Eareckson Tada's ministry you can go to www.joniandfriends.org

I'm linking with Whole Hearted Home  Check it out!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Tough Things of Love

“Love is not warm and fuzzy feelings,” I've heard my Pastor say countless of times. He usually adds “my wife and I love each other dearly, but that doesn't mean that we feel warm and fuzzy about each other all the time.” Boy, that hits a cord every time I hear it. I know my husband is the one man God designed for me, but the warm and fuzzy feelings rapidly get overrun by frustration every time he does one of those things he does which drive me crazy! It is the same with my kids. I love them more than I love myself, but upon occasion they drive me insane! All three of them often complain that I am too tough.  But that doesn't mean I don’t love them. I do and I always will because love is "more than a feeling."  True love, Biblical love, the only kind of real love, is not an emotion. Biblical love is commitment and sacrifice.

Volumes have been written about love. You can fill libraries with all the books that exist on this topic. There is nothing else I could possibly add to the discussion. However, this morning I woke up thinking about the tough things of love. Sometimes, like Dr. Dobson said in one of his books, love must be tough. Love, sometimes requires us to do the hard thing and it surely doesn't feel good, warm and fuzzy inside when we have to do them. Scripture, particularly the New Testament, contains numerous instances where we are called to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Admonishing others is not the easiest thing, let alone reproving or rebuking! But in love, we are supposed to do it when we see it fit BECAUSE of that love we have for them. It is love what must move us to do the hard things of love.

When I think of the neighbor’s children I am not so worried about “rebuking” them or even correcting them. When I think about my own, you bet I am! I love my children more than I love the neighbor’s –nothing wrong with my neighbor’s children, but they don’t belong to me. I am not committed to them the same way I am committed to my sons. It is the same with Biblical love, the kind that God expresses toward His own children, -He is committed to those who belong to Him-. He is so committed to us that He is willing to do the hardest of things. He is so committed to His own that He is willing to sacrifice His all.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3: 16 

It was out of love that God Himself became the God Incarnate, walked the road to Golgotha and allowed His body to be pierced. It was because of His commitment to us that He gave the ultimate sacrifice so we could live abundantly. And as love moves God to do the tough things of love, it should move us too.

Next time my husband and children complain that I’m being too tough I shall remind them that it is all out of love : )

Monday, April 1, 2013

Remember

It is the day after Easter. My kids’ blood is so full of sugar that even their sweat smells like candy (we weren't even done with Valentine’s candy yet, and the buckets have been refilled!). It seems like in America it isn't a holiday unless there is candy involved. At any rate, what now? Now that another Easter Sunday has come and gone, what do we do? Is it over? Are we done? Is that it? Was it all only about the colored eggs and the decadence of cacao? Is the tooth ache all that remains?

Well of course the answer to all that is a resounding NO! As I read the passage about the Angels who spoke to the women at the empty tomb a key word jumps out at me:

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Luke 24: 6-9 

The word is “remember.” That is the key to Easter. That is the reason we celebrate it. We celebrate Easter to remember that Christ changed everything! We celebrate Easter to remember that we are new and that the old ways must be left behind. We celebrate Easter because in the course of the year we allow ourselves to get lost in the business of life and forget about living. We forget about the source of life. We forget about the One whose breath is the air we breathe. We forget when we ought to remember.

The angels are not just telling the women to remember. They are telling us too. Even in the midst of our sorrow, when we think it is all futile and that there is not light left at the end of the tunnel of our sad existence, the message from God is, to remember. “Remember how He told you” that He loves you the day you were delivered from what could’ve been a horrible situation. “Remember how He told you” that He is always with you even while immersed in your loneliest hour. “Remember how He told you” that you are His when you felt abandoned and rejected. “Remember how He told you” that you are His heir and heiress the day you felt destitute. Remember. Remember that He lives in us and that we carry Easter in our hearts every day.

Like the women, we are to “remember His words” and return “from the tomb” to tell “the rest.” Remember not to look for the living among the dead and don’t keep it a secret. Do tell! Tell the good news of the Risen Lord to all who ask you for the reason of the hope you have. Tell the rest about the precious gift that is given to us in Jesus the Christ. Tell them about grace and tell them again. Pick up your Bible and remember it every day. It is thanks to the message of Easter that everything changed. We must remember and tell.

Though seemingly impossible, the candy will eventually be all gone.-Not so the message of the Cross and especially the message of the empty tomb-. Let us all remember it for the rest of the year and celebrate the gift of eternal life that we received on that first Easter morning a long time ago. There is certainly nothing sweeter than the gift Christ gave us on Easter. Let our souls get so filled up with that message that even our sweat smells like Grace.

I'm linking with A Holy Experience